Recreational flounder season opens Sept. 1; state asking for carcass donations for science

Southern flounder. [courtesy Island Free Press]

The Division of Marine Fisheries will accept flounder for the Carcass Collection and Saltwater Fishing Tournament (Citation) programs during the upcoming recreational fishing season.

The division has also set up a one-stop source for information about the 2021 recreational flounder season, which begins Sept. 1.

Carcass Collection

The division has set up five temporary locations, in addition to the nine carcass collection locations available throughout the year, where recreational fishermen can donate their flounder carcasses.

The temporary locations are:

  • The Division of Marine Fisheries Elizabeth City Office
  • The Department of Environmental Quality Washington Regional Office
  • Seagate Marina Cleaning Station, Newport
  • Chasin’ Tail Guides Dock, Atlantic Beach
  • Breakday Charters Cleaning Station, Atlantic Beach

The year-round locations are (map available here):

  • Cape Pointe Marina, Harkers Island
  • East Side Bait and Tackle, Washington
  • Frisco Rod & Gun, Frisco
  • Jennette’s Pier, Nags Head
  • Sea View Crab Company, Wilmington
  • Tex’s Tackle, Wilmington
  • Dudley’s Marina, Swansboro
  • NC Division of Marine Fisheries Headquarters, Morehead City
  • Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point- Environmental Affairs Office (available only to those with military base access)

When cleaning the fish, anglers should leave the head and tail intact and, if possible, leave the guts in the fish. Anglers who fished on a charter boat or head boat should let the fish cleaner know the carcass will be donated.

While the catch is still fresh, take it to the nearest donation location. Instructions on how to deposit the carcasses are posted at each site. Anglers will be asked to give information related to how and when the fish was caught. Fishermen also will be asked for their names and addresses.

Division biologists will measure the fish, determine the sex, if possible, and remove the otoliths (ear bones) to determine the age of the fish. The information collected will be available for use in future flounder stock assessments.

Saltwater Fishing Tournament

Additionally, the division will issue North Carolina Saltwater Fishing Tournament citations for flounder catches that weigh 5 pounds or more during the recreational flounder season.

A North Carolina Saltwater Fishing Tournament citation is a certificate, suitable for framing, that shows the name of the angler and the species, weight, and date of the catch. The division does not issue citations for flounder when the recreational season is closed.

Anglers who wish to apply for a flounder citation must do two things:

  1. Weigh the fish at one of the Official North Carolina Saltwater Fishing Tournament Weigh Stations to verify that it meets the weight requirement.
  2. Submit an application through the online Flounder Citation Application Form.

Citations will not be issued for released fish.

Recreational Flounder Season

The 2021 recreational flounder season will open at 12:01 a.m. Sept. 1 and close at 11:59 p.m. Sept. 14 in internal and ocean waters of North Carolina. The minimum size limit will remain at 15 inches total length, and the creel limit will remain at four fish per person per day during the open recreational season.

Since all species of flounder are managed under the same recreational regulations, the recreational season applies to all recreational flounder.

Recreational fishermen using gill nets with a Recreational Commercial Gear License may not participate in flounder season this year.

For more information about donating a flounder carcass, applying for a Saltwater Fishing Tournament citation for flounder, or recreational flounder season go to the 2021 Recreational Flounder Season Information webpage.

This story originally appeared on OBXToday.com. Read More local stories here.